It's time to say goodbye — to me, not to the ol' Loaf. After 10 years of being a part of the CL team in many ways, shapes and positions, I'll be moving on to a corporate gig. I've been promised there's a nerf gun at the new job, so rest assured I'll be in good hands. (Side note: After being hit across my cubicle with a blow-up parrot and other random objects from news editor Ryan Pitkin, it only seems fitting that the atmosphere should have some quirks.)
Working with Ryan — a writer who can sniff out a compelling news story just as easily as he can dig up one that's fitting for arts, music and food sections — and creative director Dana Vindigni — whose design skills and innovation seems to know no bounds — has been a blast and I feel lucky to have had such a talented team. Together, we've been able to do a lot with a little — as is the case in most shrinking news rooms across the globe.
My time with CL began with an editorial internship in 2006. After the internship, I began freelancing and in 2008 was hired full-time as events editor. Over the years, I've climbed the ladder as assistant arts and entertainment editor, managing editor, associate editor and earlier this year I took on the gratifying and sometimes hair-raising task of being editor-in-chief.
I'm thoroughly pleased with the wild ride. During my time as editor we put out some lengthy, detailed guides — including a beer guide, a brunch guide, summer and fall guides, a holiday guide, and our annual New Year's Eve guide. In our music section, we shifted the focus to local bands — Charlotte's got a lot and they're worth a listen.
We've also been busy getting involved around town. Earlier this year, CL partnered with Donna Scott Productions to present a Women Entrepreneurs in Business & Arts speaker series that was an inspirational success. The sponsorship came after a story from freelance writer Page Leggett. She wrote about the unique partnerships that local theater troupes fronted by women have formed with local businesses. For example, Shelia Proctor's Chickspeare regularly performs shows at NoDa Brewing Company and Donna Scott Productions has partnered with Charlotte Art League in South End to present shows in an artsy atmosphere. In times when a life in the arts can sometimes be hard to sustain, these ladies are a breath of fresh air and a reminder that asking questions can be a very good thing. They asked and they received. It was fun picking their brains for the speaker series and I encourage everyone to keep up with them as they continue to bring more innovative ideas to the Charlotte theater scene.
And then, there's Best of Charlotte 2016. Since 2015's Best Of Charlotte was Readers' Picks only, I was dogged and determined to bring back Critics' Picks to this year's issue. Despite the challenges it presented with such a small-but-dedicated staff, it was worth all the long nights.
But there's a reason why I pushed to do more, including nudging past freelance writers to pitch more stories and scouting out new writers with diverse backgrounds. That reason has nothing to do with me and everything to do with CL. The publication, which turns 30 next year, is still Charlotte's one and only alternative weekly publication and fills a much needed niche.
When I was just a teen in middle and high school, I used to have a ritual of picking up copies of CL. I wanted to know what concerts and art shows I should go to. I wanted to know what Charlotte eateries to hit up. And, I wanted to read news that was raw and edgy — not the predictable sugarcoated fluff and barebones news found in most dailies.
CL in all its entities has shaped who I am and I hope it's shaped who you are, too. Keeping the public informed on all the latest and greatest arts and music events in Charlotte, providing alternative news and making readers salivate over food stories has been a top priority. When folks who I've written stories about thank me, I'm always quick to remind them that I should be doing the thanking. There are so many great people, places and things in Charlotte and there's plenty more to come.
Two-time former CL editor Mark Kemp will be taking the helm and he's got plenty of new ideas in store to keep everyone engaged and entertained. As for me, I'll be out and about at shenanigans around town in 2017. Happy New Year!